EDSA ’86 commemoration persists, defies historical erosion

Various groups in Legazpi City persist in their efforts to properly commemorate the 38th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution as they gear up for a march and defy historical erosion this Sunday, February 25.

It can be recalled that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. decided to exclude the EDSA ’86 from this year’s list of non-working holidays; however, despite such omission, the Kabataan Partylist-Bicol, along with Bicolano Gabriela and other organizations in Legazpi City, organized a foot march from Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) to Peñaranda Park in Old Albay District to commemorate said historical event.

In an interview, Dani De Hesus, spokesperson for Kabataan Partylist-Bicol, stated that the mobilization in Old Albay aims to commemorate the Edsa Revolution and, beyond that, resist Charter Change (Cha-Cha) and advocate for people’s rights to land and independence.

“This commemoration of Edsa [today] is a historic nationwide movement. It is the first movement to [commemorate] Edsa without recognition from a president,” De Hesus emphasized.

Furthermore, De Hesus highlighted the significant role of the youth in shaping that of a nation, urging them to actively engage in initiatives that contribute to societal progress.

“The youth should act, mobilize, participate, study society, and not forget that we are part of history. In this commemoration, let us recognize those who sacrificed their lives during a time when action was necessary. It is in our hands how we pass this on to the next generation,” De Hesus stated.

As one reflects on this politically-unrecognized commemoration, it’s essential to remember the historical context of EDSA ’86.

It was thirty-eight years ago that the Philippines found itself at a crossroad, gripped by political turmoil and economic instability under the iron-fisted rule of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The populace, weary of decades of tyranny, yearned for change and rallied in support of the democratic movement.

Starting on February 20, 1986, the spark for change ignited as Marcos declared himself the winner of the snap elections, intending to continue his presidency, which prompted Corazon C. Aquino to lead a victory rally at Luneta, attracting two million people. Civil disobedience was urged, calling for a boycott of institutions associated with Marcos’s cronies.

On February 22, 1986, a key moment sparked the revolution when a group of military defectors, led by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, broke away from Marcos’s regime. They sought safety at Camp Crame and Aguinaldo along Edsa Avenue in Quezon City, boldly defying Marcos.

A day after that incident, Enrile and Ramos convened along EDSA, surrounded by a growing crowd of supporters, sensing the looming revolution that seemed inevitable.

However, Marcos and his remaining officials deployed loyal forces: well-armed groups and tanks that set up barriers along Edsa.

But what happened next was an incredible show of true people power as millions of Filipinos from different backgrounds gathered at Edsa. Armed only with courage and their strong beliefs, they created human barricades, sang solidarity songs, flashed the Laban sign (a symbol from Cory Aquino’s campaign), and prayed for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

And finally, on February 25 of that year, Corazon C. Aquino, the widow of the slain opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., assumed the presidency, effectively restoring democracy after decades of the Marcoses’ authoritarian rule. | Melojane Guirina, Kian Kirby F. Florano, Alliah Jane Babila